Court Victory on BLM methane rule

Last week was a win for public health and hard-working taxpayers in Ohio and across the country. Late in the evening on February 22, a U.S. District Court in California halted the Interior Department’s one-year suspension of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Prevention Rule. The Court believes the plaintiff’s can succeed in their case because the agency failed to justify its decision to postpone core provisions of the rule. Unless Secretary Zinke and the Bureau of Land Management can adequately justify the suspension at trial, the suspension will be permanently lifted.

In case you missed it, the BLM rule was created to cut the waste of natural gas owned by the American people through both accidental leaks and intentional venting and flaring. Right now U.S. oil and gas companies waste more than $330 million in natural gas each year. Finalized in November 2016 and made effective in January 2017,the rule, was intended to address the concerns of independent government oversight agencies that BLM was not meeting its legislative mandate to prevent the waste of taxpayer-owned resources.
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This court decision is good news for the health of Ohioans and our public lands, especially the Wayne National Forest. Instead of letting the industry off the hook, it puts the BLM methane waste prevention rule back into effect and requires the industry to comply with the new rules until late summer or early fall. Unfortunately, the court decision does not stop the Administration’s efforts to gut the rule. By the end of this year, BLM will have collected comments, reviewed those comments and made a determination as to whether to repeal the rule entirely. We can’t let that happen.

This is the fourth time the administration and industry groups have failed to suspend this common sense rule. The three other times occured on:

  • January 16, 2017 when a Wyoming District Court denied industry trade groups and several states attempt to prevent the rule from originally going into effect.
  • May 10, 2017 when the effort to kill the methane rule via Congressional Review Act failed with bipartisan support, 51 to 49.
  • October 4, 2017 when a California court overturned the Interior Department’s attempt to unilaterally suspend many of the most important protections of the methane waste rule without providing any opportunity for public comment.

The BLM methane rule is the result of multiple years of work, 330,000 public comments, and eight public forums, it would have ensured taxpayers received millions of dollars each year in missing royalties and reduced harmful smog and pollution from methane—a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Today we take stock of this important court victory which will reinstate the BLM methane rule and benefit Ohioans in many ways over the next six to nine months. And we continue to work to fight back against the BLM’s attempt to entirely repeal the methane waste prevention rule. Will you join us in this fight? Reach out to Department of Interior Secretary today by clicking here.

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